Modesto voters weigh changes to government, public safety tax

Modesto voters have a pair of ballot measures to weigh this November.

Measure G

Modesto voters could change the city charter to change when the Mayor is elected and how city audits are performed. 

Currently the primary and run-off elections for mayor in Modesto occur in November and February. 

If passed, Measure G would move the primary dates to coincide with the statewide primary and general elections. 

Modesto’s Audit Committee is currently comprised of only councilmembers. The city council also has the power to eliminate the committee. 

Under Measure G, the Audit Committee would become permanent and would consist of the mayor, two councilmembers and two Modesto residents. 

If there is a vacancy on the council, the council would also have 60 days to make an appointment to fill a vacancy, rather than the 30 days per the current rules. 

Other minor changes in Measure G amend the city charter to reflect current best practices, such as allowing the use of modern technology for advertising city contracts and other notices. 

Proponents for Measure G, including Mayor Sue Zwahlen and other city officials, argue that the initiative would increase the efficiency and transparency of the city government. 

Measure G needs a simple majority vote to pass. 

Measure H

Measure H would institute a one-cent sales tax that would benefit various city services. 

The one-cent general tax is estimated to raise around $39 million annually for the city’s general fund. 

Modesto would use the funds to improve services such as addressing homelessness, providing faster 911 response times and increased public safety, road and sidewalk maintenance and maintaining parks and recreation facilities, among others. 

Measure H does not contain a sunset clause, meaning the tax could only be ended by voters at a future election. 

According to the ballot argument in favor of the measure, Measure H is needed for the city government to serve a growing population. 

Modesto had 287 public safety officers 15 years ago, but that number has dropped to 210. 

The city’s parks also have deteriorated to the point where $74 million in deferred maintenance has racked up. 

Measure H needs a simple majority vote to pass.

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